Favorite Books I Read This Year – Brother Lawrence, Biographies, Bible Studies and Bossy Pants

Over the years I am learning to love “the classics”.  There is a reason why a certain book or film has stood the test of time.  Case in point: Brother Lawrence’s Practice of the Presence of God.  There is more spiritual substance in this small (80 page) book than in much of what you might find in the self-help or Christian living section of a bookstore today.  I have been working on some other spiritual classics this year (Julian of Norwich, Theresa of Avila) but Brother Lawrence was my favorite.  To read more about Brother Lawrence, here is what I posted about his book back when I finished it: The Loving Presence of God.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer was one of the strongest German voices opposing the Nazis.  From the very beginning he saw their message as diametrically opposed to the message of the Gospel.  Eventually he saw the only option in opposing the Nazis to be joining the conspiracy to kill Hitler.

Eric Metaxas’ biography of Bonhoeffer is fantastic.  Metaxas goes into quite extensive detail, this book is at least twice as long as his biography of William Wilberforce.  I highly recommend this book, it may have been my favorite book all year.  It is a fascinating and encouraging story.  Metaxas provides some great quotes from Bonhoeffer, such as this from a sermon during Bonhoeffer’s 28th year:

There is no way to peace along the way of safety. For peace must be dared, it is itself the great venture and can never be safe. Peace is the opposite of security. To demand guarantees is to want to protect oneself. Peace means giving oneself completely to God’s commandment, wanting no security, but in faith and obedience laying the destiny of the nations in the hand of Almighty God, not trying to direct it for selfish purposes. Battles are won, not with weapons, but with God. They are won when the way leads to the cross” (p. 241)

Scot McKnight’s The King Jesus Gospel challenges many evangelical understandings of the Gospel.  McKnight argues that what we call “gospel” is actually the plan of salvation.  The plan of salvation is important, but it is not the gospel.  Most “gospels” rely on the apostle Paul, specifically the book of Romans.  But if the gospel = the plan of salvation then why are the four biographies of Jesus called “gospels” when they do not include the plan of salvation?  Likewise, if the gospel = justification by faith then Jesus must not have been preaching the gospel, as Jesus preached the coming of the kingdom of God but not justification by faith.  McKnight is clear that the plan of salvation, and justification by faith, are not wrong…they are simply not the gospel.  The gospel includes them, but is more than them.  This book is vitally important.

My wife and I watch very little television.  We pretty much watch whatever is available streaming on Netflix along with The Office and 30 Rock.  Actually, I just learned a few weeks ago that my wife does not really like The Office, she only watches it because I like it.  She is so loving!  But she cracks up watching 30 Rock.
Not only is 30 Rock pretty much the only television show we have in common, Tina Fey’s Bossypants is the only book we both read in 2011.  It is a fun, laugh out loud, book.  If you want an enjoyable, random read, pick it up.

2 thoughts on “Favorite Books I Read This Year – Brother Lawrence, Biographies, Bible Studies and Bossy Pants

  1. Dave,

    I probably won’t get to the Bonhoffer book, but his book on discipleship was formative for me. I think we actually had to read that in Bible College. The book on the gospel really does sound interesting. I have MacArthur’s The Gospel According to Jesus, which does some of the same ideas, I think. At the time it came out, I seem to remember some Calvinists complaining that MacArthur was dangerously close to heresy (if you can imagine that). But the Gospels have always shaped my thinking in big ways (I hope).


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